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The Great Escape (Part 2)

JEFF RAMSAY
We left off in the early morning hours of August 11, 1963 with the jailbreak of four Umkonto we Sizwe (MK) cadres: Arthur Goldreich, Harold Wolpe, Mosie Moola and Abdulhay “Charlie” Jassat, from central Johannesburg’s Marshall Square Police Station.

Finding their getaway vehicle gone and aware that the discovery of their disappearance was probably imminent, the fugitives divided themselves, with Goldreich and Wolpe heading for Whites only Hillbrow, while Moola and Jassat made their way towards the Indian township of Ferreirasdorp. Each of the escapees had the same goal of reaching the relative safety of the Bechuanaland Protectorate (BP).

After some time, Goldreich and Wolpe had the good fortune of crossing paths with a friend and political sympathiser Barney Simon, who is today better remembered for his career as a writer, playwright and founding director of Johannesburg’s multi-racial Market Theatre. From Simon’s house the pair were able to contact their designated driver, Mannie Brown, who moved them to the first of a series of hideouts over the next eight days, while the second stage of their escape was planned.

As news of the “Great Escape” spread across South Africa, a vast manhunt was set in motion with the police focused on the recapture of Goldreich and Wolpe. At the time the propagandists of the Apartheid regime were eager to characterise white Jewish communists such as Goldreich, Wolpe and Slovo, rather than the likes of Mandel, Sisulu and Tambo, as the true leaders of the banned Congress movement and its MK underground.

In this respect Goldreich, in particular, was portrayed as enemy number one at the time, having been labelled as the principal author of “Operation Mayibuye”, copies of which had been seized at Liliesleaf. To this day the actual standing and significance of the document, which was a draft blueprint for intensifying the MK’s armed struggle, remains debatable.

Many in the MK had initially been reluctant to support the break-out fearing that it was both risky and might overstretch the movement’s manpower in the context of the Apartheid regime’s still ongoing post Liliesleaf raid crackdown. But the jubilation in the townships as well as moral boost within the ranks of the Congress Alliance that was being spread by both domestic and international media headlines of the “Great Escape” now made securing four fugitives’ safe passage out of South Africa a top priority.

In the case of Jassat and Moola, the notoriety of their white comrades proved to be something of a boon, as Jassat would later recall: “The press made such a hullabaloo about the Whites that we Indians could get about more comfortably.” 

The two split up to ultimately find their separate ways into exile. Disguised as “a beautiful Punjabi woman wearing trousers, scarf and lipstick” Jassat was successfully driven through multiple police road-blocks to Mahikeng.

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Thereafter, under the cover of darkness he was able to sneak across the border into Bechuanaland.

Seven weeks later Moola also made his way into BP. His driver, Babla Salojee, however, was subsequently arrested: he thereafter died while in police custody after “falling out of a seventh-floor window”.

The thought of trying to smuggle Goldreich and Wolpe across the border in drag was also contemplated, but in the end rejected. Instead it was decided that they both should be hidden in the boot of a quickly procured red Ford Fairlane, which was driven by a student for what must have been for its other passengers an uncomfortably claustrophobic six-hour ride to eSwatini.

Once across the border Goldreich and Wolpe were hidden for several more days at St Michael’s, an Anglican Mission high school for girls. Its then supervisor, the Rev. Charles Hooper, had himself been forced to flee South Africa three years earlier in the aftermath of the Sharpsville Massacre. Having arranged a charter flight to Lobatse, Hooper had Goldreich and Wolpe disguised in clerical attire in order to assume the alias of English missionaries. The “Reverends Shippon and Mitchell” were thus, on August 27,1963, flown in a single-engine Cessna across South Africa to Bechuanaland. The flight itself was without incident. After dropping off the pair off the airplane immediately took flight, while two men dressed as priests were observed on the ground oddly running towards the bush. This attracted the attention of the local police who apprehended the pair. 

Goldreich and Wolpe were then brought before Special Branch Inspector John Sheppard, who initially was not amused at the pair’s undocumented arrival or priestly appearance. But he nonetheless quickly appreciated the sensitive nature of their presence. Being one of the small circle of British officials entrusted to discretely manage the pipeline of political refugees through Bechuanaland, once Sheppard had processed Goldreich and Wolpe’s asylum request he apparently facilitated their same day rendezvous with recently arrived MK activists Jack and Rica Hodgson as well as local African National Congress (ANC) point-man Fish Keitseng.

İskenderun eskortları  , şehvetli krizi çözmek için ideal araçlardan biri olarak duruyor. Bu 21. yüzyılda, ideal duygusal tatmin tarzınızı bulamadıysanız, tamamen talihsizliktir. Dünya ilerledi, insanlar da ilerledi. Şimdi şehvetli memnuniyet için bir refakatçi rezervasyonu yapmak önemli değil.

Keitseng recalls being in a store when Sheppard suddenly appeared asking: ‘Fish, do you know these two guys?’ He replied that he knew Wolpe who had once successfully defended him in a case in which he had been arrested while chairing an ANC meeting in Newclare. (to be continued)



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